Exploring decisions and micro-leadership on 'What to do next' at tourist destinations.

Authenticity, being true to oneself when making life choices, is a concept taken from existentialism. Simone de Beauvoir has one of her characters in her novel, The Mandarins pose a key, and serious existential question, 'And then how shall we live?' (Beauvoir, 1954, 35) to encourage her readers to examine their own lives rather than accept the social norms weighing upon them. 'How shall we live?' is a challenge to everyone to take responsibility for what they decide to do next. Tourism studies itself often returns to this theme first, as consumers choose destinations to visit and later, during holiday-making, when they make micro-decisions on what activity to do next, freed, as they are, from the everyday constraints of work. Ideas of authorisation, permission and even guilt surround these decisions during leisure time and the analysis in my own doctoral research (Mansfield 2015) uncovers these in a participatory case study. Visitors on literary holidays do have a source of authorisation or leadership provided by the author of the novel that has taken them to the resort when they are interrogating their cultural capital for knowledge on what to do next. New approaches to analyse this process are used in the analysis of my research findings, which uses auto-ethnography and grounded theory coding as proposed by Kathy Charmaz (2006).

Conforming to social pressure, to state pressure or to the market supply remove the necessity for the visitor to know what leisure activity to do next. Indeed, restaurants in busy tourist zones employ hawkers, or reverse-bouncers, to encourage you to make that decision to eat in their establishment, as we saw during fieldwork in Malaga in November 2014. Metin Kozak has looked at the first step of decision-making, when couples choose their holiday destination. He explains how decision-making actually underpins marketing:

'The topic of decision making is a cornerstone in marketing and consumer behaviour. Choosing and buying products involves either dependent or independent decisions and thereby a decision-making process.' (Kozak 2010, 489).

Eric Brey and Xinran Lehto embark on research to investigate the relationship between everyday leisure choices and then what people choose to do next on holiday; they explain:

'There exist few empirical evidences as to the relationship between an individual’s daily recreation activities and what he or she, as a tourist, chooses to do at a destination. If they are correlated, then the questions concern the “how and why” of their association.' (Brey & Lehto 2007).

What interests us for our Work-Out today, and for our design of our tourism products is how are decisions made out in the field by two or three holidaymakers together. Does a leader emerge? And is that because we have already identified that person as charismatic or a high achiever? It may be another aspect of their personality or at least their behaviour. Secondly, how do holiday-makers take on board instructions on what to do next when they are pursuing an activity? And finally, when the next activity has been chosen how do you evaluate it? How do you decide if you enjoyed it, or if it gave you value? And what does that make you think about the leader who made you make that choice, whether it was a friend or an instruction from the tourism company?

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For the Work-Out you will need these two Apps on your smartphone. WhatsApp is still free but I think Scan now costs about a pound. If you have a Quick Response Code Scanning App already installed then that is fine.

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WhatsApp Messenger by WhatsApp Inc

Scan - QR Code and Barcode Reader by QR Code City

Brey, E., & Lehto, X. (2007) 'The relationship between daily and vacation activities' Annals of Tourism Research 34(1) 160-180.

Kozak , M. (2010) 'Holiday taking decisions - The role of spouses' Tourism Management 31 489-494

Google Slides for this lecture are at